At the core of that uncertainty is the pullback of militants from Afghanistan as U.S. forces head home. Hafiz Sayeed, founder of the LeT, has left no doubt that India’s side of Kashmir will become a target, telling an Indian weekly recently: ‘Full-scale armed Jihad (holy war) will begin soon in Kashmir after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan’.
In Afghanistan, too, India and Pakistan are waging a proxy war. Pakistan “sees India’s expansive diplomacy in Afghanistan as a ploy to disrupt it from the rear as it battles its own deadly Islamist militancy and separatist forces. Vying for influence in a post-2014 Afghanistan, it worries about India’s assistance to the Afghan army, heightening a sense of encirclement.” India fears that Pakistani militants will turn their attention on Kashmir and Indian targets in Afghanistan (like the Jalalabad consulate) as soon as international troops withdraw.All this is happening at a tense time in Kashmir, where India and Pakistan have fought several wars, and which Pakistani militants are hell-bent on liberating from Indian rule. Last Friday, soldiers on both sides of the heavily militarized border traded 7,000 rounds of mortar and gunfire. Security is tight. Both countries are in the midst of a military and naval buildup. “What should worry people in South Asia and beyond,” warns former South Asia correspondent Maya MacDonald, “is that the relative calm in India-Pakistan relations during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan may turn out to have been the exception rather than the rule…. [T]here is almost no contingency planning for a crisis, either within South Asia or outside.”[An Indian army soldier stands guard behind a barbed-wire barricade during curfew in Jammu on August 12, 2013. Photo courtesy of Getty Images]